A perimeter fence at the Scarborough Secondary School has brought some relief to the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA), though the school remained closed on Monday, the first day of the 2023/2024 school year.
Last Tuesday, the school PTA circulated a memo voicing serious concern. It asked all past and current parents to take a stand and call for a new school, also expressing concern over other serious issues.
As a result of these grievances, the PTA said classes would resume as of Tuesday.
The school has been in disrepair for some time. In 2019 students protested over its condition and called for a new school to be built.
Speaking with the media outside the school, TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Tobago officer Bradon Roberts said he was pleased with the progress.
“I saw that they came yesterday (Sunday), and the perimeter fence is up, so I would really hope that we don’t wait for adversities and persons making noise, and we see where some of the parents are in agreement and some not in agreement.”
He said the THA Division of Education, Research and Technology (DERTECH) had received the message and answered the call.
But, he said, “They should have been answering it a while back." He said the PTA president had communicated with the division since May, "and they are only now responding.”
He commended the PTA for taking a stance.
“Sometimes we depend on TTUTA all the time, and teachers, we know, don’t just go out and protest, so I really want to applaud the PTA for stepping up in this regard. Their stance (got) this perimeter fence put in place, and I am grateful for that. The parents, they are not being selfish at all, they are seeing about the well-being of all the students, and I am grateful for that.”
At the Plymouth Anglican School, the PTA gathered outside to highlight a dilapidated railing. The PTA’s PRO Dernelle Vincent said the railing that protects the senior students on the upper level has been an issue for nine months.
“Yesterday (Sunday), we had a conversation with the secretary of DERTECH along with the school’s administrator and the CEO of the Eco Industrial Development Company of Tobago (E-IDCOT) where...we came to a resolution, a solution."Children on the upper level will be moved to the Plymouth Anglican Church, obliquely opposite the school.
She said there was agreement that the students would only occupy the space for the rest of the week, as E-IDCOT would be engaged and repairs done.
“This was promised to us. We are standing and holding them accountable for this week.”
DERTECH Secretary Zorisha Hackett said in response the division recognises TTUTA's concern, but added: “It is imperative to emphasise that incomplete school repairs are not an isolated issue in Tobago.”
She said this challenge resonates on a national scale, primarily due to delays caused by the migration to the Office of Procurement Regulation’s depository.
“Despite also facing financial constraints as we approach the end of fiscal year 2023, DERTECH remains resolute in its commitment to prioritise the health and safety of both our dedicated staff and resilient students. To achieve this objective, we have enlisted the E-IDCOT to effectively manage the school repair programme across 51 schools to the tune of $20 million.”
She told the concerned stakeholders at the Plymouth Anglican Primary School and Scarborough Secondary School that their issues have always been on the radar, and the division is determined to address them comprehensively.
“The repair works at these institutions have commenced, as promised, and should be completed in short order.”
She added: “Additionally, productive dialogues have taken place with the parent-teacher association presidents of both schools, with a commitment by all parties to engage in collaborative efforts and improved communication toward shared goals in the future.”
On the rest of Tobago, she said she was pleased to report that crucial repairs have been completed, with minor repairs and other outstanding projects to continue on afternoons and weekends until they are satisfactorily completed.
“With the exception of Parlatuvier Anglican Primary School, which is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday due to ongoing works affecting curriculum delivery, all other schools on the island of Tobago should resume classes, based on the advice of the acting CEO of E-IDCOT.”